SAN DIEGO — The City of San Diego on Friday began an emergency construction project to stabilize a cliff area and roadway in La Jolla following an analysis by geology experts.
Experts discovered a zone of weakness where a local sea cave called Cook’s Crack is located underneath Coast Boulevard and recommended action be taken. The city immediately shut down the street Thursday evening and initiated an emergency contract to reinforce the cave.
"If you left this alone and did not do anything, you would eventually see a collapse," said James Nagelvoort, director of public works and engineer.
As part of the stabilization project, parts of Cave Street and Coast Boulevard will be temporarily closed for six weeks while work crews fortify a weak point on Coast Boulevard above the sea cave.
Kevin Stone, who has been in Cook's Crack before with guides, said "they warned us numerous times going into these caves is a risk because you never know when the ground is going to move."
City officials said all efforts will be made to accommodate access for nearby residents and businesses in some fashion; however, businesses in the area are already being affected by street closures.
David Heine, who owns The Brockton Villa, said the restaurant typically receives 500 guests on a Friday in the summer, but not today.
The road in front of The Brockton Villa was closed, but at first Heine said he did not know why.
“It took me about three hours to figure out what was going on. I wish we were notified,” he said.
The Cave Store also saw a decrease in business. The street closures are making parking a hassle if not nearly impossible to find a spot.
"If it is making the cliffs safe, since our business requires us to have a tunnel through the cliffs, staying in tact, I am fine with them keeping it safe," said The Cave Store manger, Cassandra Dove.
Alex Fuller at Snorkel Rentals said no one told them about the cliffs.
Business owners in the area said they understand the need for safety which in the long term benefits their businesses.
The City said last weeks' deadly cliff collapse in Leucadia did not spark the investigation. Instead, before roadwork could begin to repair Coast Boulevard, geologists inspected the cave.
Pat Abbot, who is a geologist but does not work for the city, said the cracks can take hundreds if not thousands of years to erode.
"By the time you warp them up like this in La Jolla, they fracture. They get cracks and then the ocean comes in," he said.
Coast Boulevard will be closed and drivers will need to detour down Prospect Street and curve around on Girard Avenue.